How to Help a Child Struggling with Constipation?


Just like adults, toddlers too suffer from constipation. Constipation in children usually occurs when a child begins eating solid food. Children under 2 weeks old are known for passing frequent stools. Most times a child may not empty his bowels for days but when he does he passes soft stool freely – this is not considered a case of constipation. Constipation sets in when that child starts passing hard stools. This could be a result of change in the child’s diet or waiting too long to pass a stool. It is not nice seeing your child straining to pass a bowel. If you find your toddler in such situation, don’t panic because these tips can help your child to pass stool comfortably.

  • Applying warm water – Warm water has the tendency to relax a child’s anus. It also helps to keep other parts of the child relaxed. When the anus is relaxed, the child can more freely pass stool. In a case where the child strains for too long, place the child in a sitting position over warm water. Massage the child’s buttocks and anus with warm water. This will help to relax the child’s anus.
  • Diet – As children grow, we tend to change their diet. Diet plays a crucial role in combatting constipation issues in children. It is important to monitor the foods children are served and how their body reacts. Children under a year old should be fed primarily breast milk and as time progresses, introduction of meals such as baby food rich in high fiber, cereals, and fresh fruit should begin. Children over a year old should be given foods such as vegetables, fresh fruit, prunes, yogurt, and their breast milk intake should be reduced. These foods can serve as a preventive measure to constipation.

Give the child more fluid – This is a simple therapy that works magic. It is always good to keep your child hydrated. Children tend to lose water in their system because they want to go out, jump, run, and play. Train your child to always bring water. A little fruit juice can be added to their liquid intake, but water remains the best. A child whose water intake is balanced will have a reduced chance of straining to pass a bowel movement. Water refreshes the system and keeps children healthy.

  • Use of stool softeners – For a child above a year old, introducing stool softeners can also relieve the child of constipation. This should be done with close examination of how frequently the child passes stool and the texture and nature of the stool to avoid complications. Stool softeners such as Miralax and Benefiber is advised. They can take over half a day to take effect.
  • Pooing position – Most parents don’t know that the position in which a child is placed may stop or trigger a child’s bowel movement. It is always advised to place a child in a position which he can freely pass a stool. An example of such position is holding the child’s knee against the chest or squatting.
  • Exercise – It is important to give your child time to exercise each day. Allow the child to play as this encourages circulation of blood and strengthening of the child’s muscles. Exercise helps in keeping all the child’s organs active and healthy.
  • See your pediatrician – If after applying these tips, there are no improvements in your child’s bowel movement, see your pediatrician for examination to avoid worsening the case.

A child’s system is fragile and should be carefully handled. Don’t be ignorant of your child’s new habit. Be mindful of every change you note and keep them safe from harm. Always consult your pediatrician to find out which tips are best for your child’s health and specific needs.